CHR: Foreigners can participate in peaceful assemblies
Patricia Fox, the detained Australian nun, greets supporters on Tuesday following her release from the office of the Bureau of Immigration.
The STAR/Miguel De Guzman

CHR: Foreigners can participate in peaceful assemblies

Audrey Morallo ( - April 17, 2018 - 10:13pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights on Tuesday took a different position on foreigners joining peaceful assemblies, saying they can do so as long as they don’t threaten national security, public safety and order, and the morals and freedoms of others.

Patricia Fox, an Australian nun and advocate of land reform and peasant rights, was detained for her supposed violations of an immigration order banning foreign participation in any “partisan activities” and assemblies. She was released on Tuesday.

Antonette Mangrobang, a spokesman for the Bureau of Immigration, said that the detention of Fox, 71, at their office since Monday was due to an intelligence report on her “political activity.”

Jacqueline De Guia, spokesperson of the CHR, said that everyone, including foreign nationals like Fox, should be granted due process even if local authorities are asserting national laws.

De Guia also stressed that the government should protect and promote the human rights of all persons in the Philippines, including citizens of other countries.

“Even foreign nationals are granted the right to peaceful assembly so long as they do not interfere with national security, public safety, public order, public health or morals or the rights and freedoms of others,” the CHR spokesperson said in a statement.

“We urge the government to observe the rule of law and ensure protection of human dignity by respecting the rights of all, while we carefully consider our national interests,” she added.

According to Immigrations Operations Order SBM-2015-025, "foreign tourists are prohibited from engaging in any political activity as defined by law and jurisprudence such as joining, supporting, contributing or involving themselves in a rally, assembly, gathering, whether for or against the government."

This was also the same order cited by the Immigrations Bureau in deporting Giacamo Filibeck, an official of the Party of European Socialists, who was barred from entering the country Sunday.

CPC officials at PDP-Laban political event

In February, some Communist Party of China officials joined the anniversary celebration of the ruling PDP-Laban party.

The guests of honor for the event were Sheng Chuanliang, Communist Party of China Vice Minister Giu Yeshou and Zhao Jianhua, the Chinese envoy to the Philippines.

There was also a briefing given to party-members and guests on the life and thoughts of Xi Jinping, the Chinese president.

In January, PDP-Laban members were also given a briefing by members of the CPC.

"We were exposing ourselves to the policy of the Chinese communist party's all out war against corruption. That was the topic emphasized. There wasn't even a mention of what communism is all about," Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said then. 

Critics of the government criticized the decision to detain Fox and said that it raised questions about what the government was trying to conceal.

“The emerging trend on crackdown against foreign activists in the country is alarming as exhibited by the harassment and casual arrests of the two human right advocates who were not even in protest activities or rallies when taken into custody,” the former ruling Liberal Party said.

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